Girls Who Invest Has Hired a New CEO

Remember Girls Who Invest? They’re the nonprofit that’s working to get more women to work in asset management. 

Back on Jan. 10, the group announced that they’ve hired a new CEO. Former North Carolina State Treasurer Janet Cowell will be taking the helm at Girls Who Invest. Alicia spoke with Cowell about her past as a state employee and her plans for the future of Girls Who Invest. 

Cowell was the first woman ever elected as North Carolina state treasurer. She managed more than $100 billion in assets and health and retirement benefits for more than 900,000 members.

“I was elected in 2008, right in the middle of the financial crisis,” Cowell says. “As we started sorting through some of the after-effects of that, one thing that came out was the whole role that lack of diversity played in it.”

If Lehman Brothers — the investment bank that famously collapsed as a result of the financial crisis in 2008 — had been Lehman Brothers and Sisters, Cowell says, things might have turned out differently. 
In her role as state treasurer, Cowell says she worked to diversify the state in as many ways as she could. 

“I wanted to diversify in all the aspects,” Cowell says. “That means I worked to diversify our assets to credit and real estate, but that I also worked to bring in a new generation of financial managers.”

After briefly working on the Girls Who Invest advisory board, Cowell says she fell in love with the organization. 

“I clearly believe in the mission and I’m excited about the chance to work in the arena of finance, women’s issue and education,” Cowell says. 

In addition to offering programs at Notre Dame and the University of Pennsylvania in 2018, Cowell says Girls Who Invest expects to reach a broader audience by offering courses through the CFA Institute and Coursera. 

“It’s a very male-dominated industry,” Cowell says. “We’re trying to right the gender balance by creating this pipeline of women.”

- Alicia McElhaney / She Spends Issue #37

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